WHAT CRACKDOWN? PNP denies singling out progressive groups

Police Lieutenant Colonel Joem Malong, spokesperson of Police Regional Office (PRO)-6

By: Jennifer P. Rendon

The Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) denied the alleged crackdown on progressive groups in Western Visayas.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Joem Malong, PRO-6 spokesperson, said progressive, or militant or cause-oriented, organizations have nothing to worry about.

“Why worry if you’re doing nothing unlawful?” she said.

But in the same manner, Malong said it appeared that there are cause-oriented groups that have direct links with the New People’s Army (NPA).

The creation of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) may have ruffled the feathers of the so-called NPA legal fronts.

The multi-agency task force has also been monitoring groups that have alleged direct connections with rebels.

“Our concern here is about their recruitment of minors to join their group,” Malong said.

She cited the incident in Bacolod City where 13 of the 42 arrested persons were minors.

On Nov. 10, alleged NPA leader Herman Allesa was arrested in a police operation in Maasin, Iloilo over the weekend.

But in a statement, Panay Alliance Karapatan said that Allesa was the former treasurer of the regional peasant alliance Pamanggas.

“According to Pamanggas, Allesa was tagged by the military as one of the operators of the Maasin raid of the NPA in June 2017,” the statement said.

It added that “Karapatan Panay condemns the said raid as this is part of the Duterte government’s crackdown against legal progressive organizations and its leaders.”

But Malong said Allesa is an alleged team leader of Propaganda Organizing Team (POT) but now belongs to Lambat Paniktik under Baluy Platoon of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon – Panay (KRP)’s Central Front.

He was also on the order of battle of the now-defunct Philippine Constabulary in 1990, old police records indicated.

While he was a rebel returnee, authorities learned that Allesa liaised or served as links between rebels and some politicians.

But whether he’s with the movement or not, one thing is clear for the PRO-6: “he violated the law by having in his possession a grenade,” Malong said.